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Love Your God More, Not Your Country Less

love of country

When you love something or someone, you are tempted to love that thing or person more than God. Because we are prone to idolatry, we can easily take good things—blessings in our lives—and give those blessings our worship. I can do this with Kaye, my daughters, my role, and so many things. C.S. Lewis wrote about how to solve the problem when we love others more than God.

It is probably impossible to love any human being simply “too much.” We may love him too much in proportion to our love for God; but it is the smallness of our love for God, not the greatness of our love for man, that constitutes the inordinacy.

In other words, we should not tell people to love their spouse or kids less but to love God more.

As we enter an election season, love for country will be a topic of conversation. It seems some Christians who express love for their country are accused of idolatry. Maybe—just as someone who loves his spouse and kids may love them more than God. But maybe not—just as someone who loves his spouse and kids may love them in accordance with his love for God. And because we don’t know and can’t know, it is unwise and uncharitable to assume someone’s expressed love for their country is idolatry.

Can we drift and love our country more than God? Yes. Of course, we can. We do so with all sorts of things in our lives. Augustine wrote of disordered loves—our proclivity to love less-important things more than the One who is all-important. All of us have this proclivity because all of us fall short of the glory of God. If we love our country more than God, we are setting ourselves up for disappointment by putting our hope in a kingdom that won’t last and forsaking our first love. The solution is not to scold ourselves into loving our country less but to stir our own affections for loving our God more. Adapting C.S. Lewis here:

It is probably impossible to love one’s country simply “too much.” We may love our country too much in proportion to our love for God; but it is the smallness of our love for God, not the greatness of our love for our country, that constitutes the inordinacy.

In the last several years, I have worshiped among believers in Haiti, South Asia, and Egypt—believers who love the people they live among and the land in which God has placed them. Believers who are joyfully convinced God has them right where He wants them. Their love for God has increased their love for the places where they live. Does that mean they embrace everything in the culture or view their country as perfect? No way. Believers in Southeast Asia attempt to subvert the caste system with the gospel, and believers in Egypt were involved in removing their president in 2013 while also serving people on all sides of the revolution. The mature believers I worshiped alongside love their God first, and it is their love for God that gives them a burden for their country, a love for people within their country, and a desire to serve others.

We must love our God first, with our heart, soul, mind, and strength. And loving our God results in a burden for where He has placed us. For, “From one man he has made every nationality to live over the whole earth and has determined their appointed times and the boundaries of where they live” (Acts 17:26). Don’t love your country less, but love your God more.

This article originally appeared here and is used by permission.